GOLDBERG: Bottle up the heat

There was one particular day this summer when all anyone talked about was the heat. It was a lazy heat. It was the type of heat that clings to your skin like Saran Wrap and pastes your hair to your forehead in sticky clumps. It was a plop-down-somewhere-sip-a-glass-of-lemonade-even-if-you-hate-lemonade type of heat. It was mid-July and every conversation began with a groan — “God, that heat.”

I remember making an effort to jog one of those evenings. Instead, I ended up kicking off my sneakers and sprawling inches from the building on a patch of grass wet with either the dew or the sprinkler system or maybe my own perspiration. I don’t remember how long I lay there, or what was on my mind.

But I remember seeing the tips of shoes as they made their way home from work — loafers, sandals, clack-clacking heels and one pair of deep magenta crocs. I remember the ticklish brush of the dandelion seeds that drifted across my face, and the feeling of a pebble digging into my lower spine. It was five minutes or maybe 10 or even half an hour, and I didn’t think about anything but the shoes and the flowers and the pebble under my back. The doorman laughed when I finally stood up. “Lazy Monday, huh?”

They say in chemistry that molecules speed up when they’re warm, but to me the summer always feels slower, like the season is on its own clock or enclosed in some other time zone. My brain is muffled by the dry air, and I can’t calculate my mental to-do lists as rapidly. I drag my feet and show up late. In the summer, I have time to notice the little things around me — the way the sun glints off windows and the drops of condensation that gather on iced coffee cups. Maybe there’s a reason everything seems fresher in the summer: The whole world decides to go to yoga and breathe deep.

Soon the heat will evaporate. We’ll be pulling on sweaters and eventually puffy jackets. And as the winds start to speed up, we’ll start rushing around, sprinting from one class to another to avoid spending too long outside in the cold. Minutes will get faster. I won’t take the time to lie outside mindlessly. Even if I wanted to, it would be hard — the cold wakes me up and keeps my brain on high alert, focused on destinations. And it’s not that I don’t like being busy, but sometimes I just want to lie somewhere and forget about everything except the heat.

There are some things we do at Yale that, while fun, I wouldn’t define as true relaxation. We like to put away our work on Fridays and find friends to stumble with down Broadway or High Street toward nights of dancing or chatting while trying not to slur words. We like to spend a little bit too long in dining halls when meals are finished, laughing or catching up with friends and postponing that inevitable trudge back to the library. These experiences are all good, but they don’t slow down time. We’re always keenly aware of the moments passing. There are anxieties tumbling around behind our words. We’re not really thinking about the weather.

This year, I want to bottle up the summer heat and drink it deep when I want stillness. I want lazy Mondays — the type of relaxation where time slows down. Once in a while, I want to fling myself down somewhere spontaneously and forget everything but the feeling of the air on my face. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot moist air plastered to my skin or a cold chill biting at my ears; I don’t want to lose the mindlessness that comes with summer heat.

Emma Goldberg is a sophomore in Saybrook College. Contact her at emma.goldberg@yale.edu.

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